In 1982, five cars were released, one per major automotive market at the time. These five high-performance vehicles all had different stories, different qualities, and very different people behind their design, but all five of them managed to work their way deep into the minds of the consuming public.
Teuton AG 975 Turbo
The 975 Turbo was built on a car originally released in 1975 as the 975. As the signature sports car for Teuton AG, the car did relatively well, pushing the high-performance German manufacturer to figure out ways to keep the car fresh. As the decade rolled over from 1979, ideas were passed around the boardroom. They all revolved around one concept, though: taking everything good about the 975 and making them better. By January of 1980, a plan was finalized: increase the engine displacement of their classic Flat 6 from 3L to 3.3, slap twin turbos on it, and with some tuning manage to break the 300 horsepower barrier. The car originally known as a fun RR sports car became an RR supercar. Was it expensive to make? Like hell it was. Did it sell at a high price? Absolutely. Was it a success? It ran away like a train with cut brakes. When released in December 1981, Teuton AG was putting keys into the hands of hundreds of wealthy speed demons. The performance numbers were incredible. A 4.2 second 0-62mph and a top speed of 182mph made it the fastest car of its day, not to be beaten until the first half of the 1990s. It was light as well, with a curb weight of 2280lbs. The car was also a design icon, with a shaped rear wing that would become instantly recognizable and headlights that jutted out from the body in a way that gave the slanted nose some welcome shape. Even a mere silhouette of the car could be identified. The 975 Turbo is rightfully described as the icon of the 1980s.
Phoenix Caruzo C6V
The Caruzo C6V is a sports-tuned edition of the original Caruzo sports car released by the American manufacturer Phoenix Motors, often just referred to as Phoenix. The Caruzo as a model was named after Bernoulli Caruzo, an Italian designer hired by Phoenix to help with their performance model. He was the first to put the lines that would become the car on to paper, often helping the company when building prototypes. The car itself originally came with just an i4, but as it was, it didn’t sell well. Quickly, attempts to aid in creating a better trim were thrown around as Phoenix became a madhouse. The Caruzo, cheap as it was to produce and buy, was a hefty area of focus for the company. If it failed, the company had a good chance of going down with it, and Bernoulli wouldn’t see his namesake go down as a failure. One day, an employee known as Charlie ‘CV’ Vanderhook, suggested a V6. Small size, but more power than an inline 4 at the least. Numbers were crunched, road tests were done, and they had an even better car on their hands, given the trim name ‘C6V’, which according to Phoenix means ‘Competition 6V’, most employees might tell you it’s a nod to Charlie and his V6 suggestion. With 167 horsepower, 7.51 0-62mph time and a top speed of around 157 miles per hour, it became America’s high-performance car and a fixture of the era’s American Dream. While there were much faster options on the road at the time, the Caruzo was criminally cheap, which drove sales higher and higher. Of the cars in this collection, the Caruzo C6V had the highest production numbers.
JMC Ares Turbo
The JMC (Japanese Motor Company) Ares (and the shown Turbo) was created for one reason and one reason only. The car was built to fix an image problem. The popularity of the company’s hatchbacks and economic sedans, as well as similar models from their competitors, fueled an outside vision of the Japanese auto scene that suggested it was a little… boring. Their cars were cheap and practical, but they never quite had the fun factor that might draw people towards performance brands. JMC would not have it. The original Ares was built in 1978, released only within Japan. It was a fair success, with it being light and punchy but still able to control itself with its 2L inline-4, and with a relatively low price tag it got into the hands of the audience they wanted to pull in most: the fun-loving, thrill-seeking youth. The boxy yet sleek look also went over well in a sea of 3-box sedans and 2-box hatchbacks. In 1980, the car was first brought to foreign markets, where it generated a surprisingly positive response. The Japanese market was seemingly turned upside down when it became known that the country was capable of fun cars! With 1981 coming to a close, JMC made the choice to add a turbo to their i4 due to the rising popularity of the induction method. Cryptic advertisements from the company began popping up worldwide starting in November, with either ominous or exciting messages on a mostly blank screen, with a second of engine audio at the end with a new and noticeable whine. Then, in January of 1982, the first Ares Turbos began to hit dealerships. The car made 216 horsepower, managed to hit 160mph, and had a solid 7-second 0-62 time. The numbers weren’t 975 Turbo numbers, but one could say they were getting a good value for something between a half and a third the price of a 975 Turbo. The most important thing the Ares Turbo did, though, was put JMC on the map. The trim was a smash hit compared to what the base model was, and for every year since the Turbo’s release, it has been the recommended and ideal way to drive a JMC Ares.
Piemonte Mitorona 2500
The Piemonte Automobili Mitorona 2500 is the last of the company’s Mitorona models. The Mitorona had been originally released all the way back in 1974, with certain changes made over the next 8 years. As time wore on, and interest began to slow as 1979 crept by, the executives in charge were already planning the supercar’s retirement. The car was originally named after the home cities of the founder (Cesare Mangiola, Milano) and the COO (Silvio Modeni, Torino), CFO (Alberto Cuccio, Roma), and vice president (Giorno Leone, Napoli) of the company. The car had seen numerous versions and engines throughout the years, starting life as a 2.5L V6 and working their way into larger V6s before switching to a V8 in 1978. As for the 2500 trim, it was created as an exclusive. Only up to 2500 would be made, and only within the 1982 model year. After that, the car would be laid to bed. It was made with the highest-quality components, a 2500cc/2.5L V8 with multiple new vents all over the body, a removable roof, and most iconically a large rear spoiler that pointed inwards in a V-shape. The company also created Piemonte Azzurro as the stock color for the 2500, as it was “Cesare’s favorite of the hundreds of colors we showed him,” a designer said. As the first Piemonte Azzurro colored 2500s rolled off the production line, the company had it broadcasted as a celebration. Cesare would be quoted in saying, “I believe it is time for the Mitorona to make like me and get its last while in before it retires.” The performance was good, being the fastest Piemonte car ever produced with a 167 mile an hour top speed and a 6.9 second 0-62, but that wasn’t why it was bought. It was the end of an era for the company, and thankfully, a celebrated and successful end. The car would find popularity in the future as the car representing the vaporwave aesthetic due to the blue of the car and its appearance being iconic on par with the 975 Turbo in future influences on their respective brands.
Gingham Thruxton V8
Gingham was a dark horse when it came to 1982 performance cars. The Thruxton V8 was unexpected from a company known for being luxurious and gentle, known for creating the kind of car you’d chauffer Faberge eggs in. But alas, the Thruxton V8 was a departure from all preconceived notions. The looks may have rung more American-muscle to most initial viewers, but with a good eye, one could find the many nods to Gingham and Britain… as well as the left-hand-drive steering wheel. The car still had luxury features and felt like a premium car, but once you put your foot down, you were off. The 4-liter V8 was pushing 251 horsepower through the rear wheels and got you up to 62 mph in 6.2 seconds. The real downside was the top speed, being limited to only around 155 miles per hour. While slow compared to many other supercars, the Thruxton V8 was included because it was just such a left-field move for the company, with very little buildup on its development until in 1980 they teased a sporty coupe in Geneva and for two years just said they had something “in the works”. Then for 1982, they dropped it like a bomb. The car was a modest success sales-wise, with its killer act more so being it was effectively a left-hand-drive luxury supercar. In pop culture, however, the car was seen doing not-quite-Gingham things on the silver screen, ending up as a popular car for chases. The speed combined with the throaty V8 croon and weight of the car meant it became a desired car for high-ranking goons and lucky carjacking protagonists alike all over Hollywood as they decided to bash the performance car’s panels against each other. Due to the rarity of the car inverse to its pop culture relevance, it quickly became a collector’s item with every successful movie it was featured in, prompting frequent callbacks.